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Southend United 2 Rovers 3

4 August 2018

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Rovers turned on the style on a dramatic opening day of the season which was rewarded with three points at Southend United.

John Marquis, Mallik Wilks and Tommy Rowe scored the goals which gave Rovers victory as they stepped up a gear in the second period.

The match had been level at the break - with Marko Marosi doing well to keep the score level - but Rovers took control with two goals early in the second period.

There were some nervy moments in the closing stages - as Rovers had to see out eight minutes of time added on - but they saw out the match to ensure victory in Grant McCann's first competitive match as manager.

Marosi was the first called into action, parrying away a Michael Kightly shot from outside the area.

Three minutes later he was called into action to tip away an effort from Ben Coker, who curled an effort towards a bottom corner after a short one-two from a central free-kick.

He had to be alert again after 19 minutes to keep out a Simon Cox shot which looped up after a deflection from Andy Butler.

Rovers' attacking threat came mainly from set-pieces, with Ali Crawford entrusted with taking free-kicks. The most effective one came after 31 minutes, with Marquis getting on the end of the delivery and bringing a great save out of Mark Oxley with a headed effort.

Rovers created more opportunities as the half progressed, with a Danny Andrew long-throw causing problems.

Marquis flashed a cross in front of goal which was begging to be turned in, after Ben Whiteman's cross, while Whiteman then had an effort blocked and Crawford chipped an effort which went just over.

The last chance of the half fell to Crawford, who just could not adjust his feet to get a shot away after the ball was deflected into his path following Coppinger's cross.

Rovers looked fired up when they came out after the break and Marquis headed just over in the opening minute of the second period.

The Rovers' No.9 went one better five minutes into the second period when he fired Rovers ehad. Rowe intercepted a clearance from Michael Turner and fed Marquis, who cut inside his man and fired home a right-footed shot.

And seven minutes later it was 2-0 as Wilks collected the ball just inside the area. He turned and drilled home a powerful low left-footed shot which nestled in the bottom-right corner of Oxley's goal.

The Shrimpers pushed for an equaliser and introduced former Rovers forward Theo Robinson off the bench, and he curled an effort just wide of Marosi's far post.

Rovers were continuing to push, and Oxley got down well to get a hand to Wilks' shot from distance.

The third goal came after 70 minutes when Rowe and Crawford combined well from a corner, with Rowe marking his first competitive outing as captain with a goal by sliding in an effort from the edge of the area after he was afforded far too much space.

The home side scrambled a goal back after 75 minutes, with Tom Hopper forcing the ball home from close range after Marosi had blocked Mantom's shot from distance.

Three minutes later Marosi had to be at his best to get down low and turn away a drilled effort form Sam Barratt.

Southend got a second goal after 86 minutes when Robinson forced the ball home after a goalmouth scramble.

There were eight minutes of time added on which ensured a nervy finish, but Rovers held on to ensure a winning start to the campaign.

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